Monday, November 9, 2009

The Sierras Part I of II (A Cozy Weekend)


I wasn’t writing a blog at the time, so let me describe a weekend that my girlfriend and I had about nine months ago.

After surviving up that that point, and still remains, a very difficult financial period in our lives, we decided to have an inexpensive few days away from the big city for Valentine’s Day Weekend.  We drove up to Three Rivers, California, which is a little town of about 2000 people, whose namesake describes its location near the junction of the North, Middle, and South Forks of the Kaweah River.*

But it’s probably better know as one of the gateways into the Sequoia National Forest.  It’s a town that my parents and I used to pass through on our vacations.

My girlfriend and I stayed in a little motel right on the banks of the river and had a direct view of the waters rushing around huge boulders that populate the Kaweah.  Our room was simple; two double beds (one for our luggage which took a day to unpack as is usually the case), and a full bath.  We also had a big glass sliding door that let us out directly onto the river.  Falling asleep to the sound of the currents was soothing.

There was a light rain most of the time we were there, and people expected a second big storm to hit about the day we would be ending our three-day stay.  We had just missed an unexpected and heavy snowstorm the week before our arrival which left fresh, deep powder at the 4000 foot elevations and higher.

One of the things we do when we arrive to some new location is to check out all of the eateries that we’ll be using while we’re there.  Maybe a form of nesting.  We found one local pizza hangout with wood floors, which always feels more authentic to me for some reason.  Is there, deep in my genome memory, an archetype pizza shoppe with distressed barn wood floors?  I’ll never know myself well enough to answer this.


 It was a fun pizza place.  They had a very large flat screen monitor showing sports, and there were a lot of high schoolers and parents eating together, maybe for their post-game meals.  It was the perfect place to have found on a Friday night.

The next day we drove up into Sequoia National Forrest and retraced the steps to the various places my parents and I would frequent; Sequoia National Forrest Lodge, an open area where the chalets we used to stay in were located, the old ski area at Wolverton, which is now an open toboggan and saucer run area.  No more skiing and no more lifts.


I believe I was told that about twenty years ago, they started to discourage having huge crowds up there because the car exhaust was having an effect on the giant sequoia trees.  Those trees are absolutely magnificent.  Usually when you visit a place, things look smaller.  In this case, I had no recollection of those trees being that large.

We walked around the Wolverton snow playing area for a while as I showed Brenda where I learned to ski at age five, where the rope tows where and the warming & food hut.

We found a place to eat that night down the road from our motel, which served both American and Mexican food, which was perfect since I felt like the former, and she felt like the latter.  With thoughts about my former ski instructor, and a recollection that she lived in the town we were staying in, or at least taught at a school there at the time, I started asking around to people I met if they knew of this pretty, blonde woman who taught me to ski in Wolverton in 1970 and 1971 whose first name was Karin.


That night, I had two independent people tell me that they knew who I was talking about, and that she and her husband had moved to Oregon maybe 15 years back, and that she had died of cancer only two years earlier.  That made me sad; the idea that if I had come through the area just a few years ago, I could have re-united with Karin.

Most of the people we met in Three Rivers were very nice and easy-going.  As I recall, many worked either in the National Park, or down in the San Joaquin Valley.  There weren’t a lot of jobs right in Three Rivers.  What you see is what you get there; motels, eateries and gift shops.  There is a great candy and chocolate confectionery right on there main road.  I should add that there is only one main road through Three Rivers.


Another place we found to eat at on Sunday morning, the day we were leaving, was a little mom and pop breakfast place on the side of the road away from the river, about three mile South of where our motel was.  It was great food and was another watering hole for the locals; I could tell from the things they were talking about; subjects only locals talk about.

It was a nice stay.  Very simple, very private in the sense that my girlfriend and I were able to spend time together without many distractions and enjoy the scenery and the sound of water rushing by.

Upon return home, I found an old picture of Karin and I during one of my ski lessons.  I decided to write the local paper in Three Rivers about my visit to the town, about my memories of Karin the ski instructor, and about my sadness in hearing of her passing. But things are not always as they seem...



(To be continued in Part II of II)

*Wikipedia's Three Rivers Page










Karin & Fred, 1970